At age 3, David Reed Gamboa Brandhorst loved Legos, his cousins and attending his weekly swim class. On Sept. 11, he boarded flight 175 at Logan Airport with his fathers Daniel Brandhorst and Ronald Gamboa to return home to Los Angeles after visiting family in Cape Cod. The hijacked flight crashed into the south tower, making David one of the youngest victims of the 2001 terror attacks. Today would have been his 18th birthday.
Gamboa’s sister, Jeannie Merwin, remembers her nephew as a gentle and loving little boy. Following the example of his health-conscious father, she says he loved vegetables. He even opted to eat cherry tomatoes over cake and ice cream at a cousin’s birthday party.
David called Gamboa "daddy" and Brandhorst "papa." His fathers had met at a party in 1987 and a few years later relocated from the East Coast to Los Angeles. They decided to start a family after being together for 10 years. They were in the delivery room when their adopted son, David, was born—just one day after Brandhorst’s birthday.
The two men relished fatherhood and both doted on their son. Family members say they had plans to adopt more children. The two were also founding members of the Pop Luck Club, an organization designed to give support and resources to gay dads and their families.
A playground in a West Hollywood park serves as a monument to David and his parents. The last words on the brass dedication plaque--“five more minutes Daddy!”--permanently memorialize the spirit of the fun loving toddler who loved to play there with his daddy and papa.
By Jenny Pachucki, 9/11 Memorial Content Strategist